I recently took my 6th trip to Cabo San Lucas and thought it would be a good idea to make a comprehensive guide. This guide will feature several parts.
As one of the safest cities in Mexico, Cabo San Lucas has seen an increase in tourism and is a hotspot for young people during spring break. The area is developing well and many resorts and golf courses are springing up! With low airfares and amazing beaches, Cabo San Lucas is becoming a vacation destination for many.
Here is what I have written so far towards this guide:
Once you’ve landed in Cabo, you’ll be forced to get around the city. Every hotel and major beach is along one long road. In fact, the airport is about 20 miles away from the main resorts and beaches. One of the best ways to get around is by renting a car. Usually, car rental rates are extremely cheap in Cabo. I once rented a car for $6/day. However, there are some things you need to be aware of before heading to your designated rental counter.
Mexican Car Insurance
It is REQUIRED by law in Mexico that you have Third Party Liability insurance. When booking online through car rental websites, most of them do not include this rate into the total. You will only see this rate when the agent at the counter tries to add this on. Certain people say that it is also law for car rental companies to include the insurance into the rate but rarely do they do that. There is one code on National Car Rentals website that includes this insurance. To give a hint, it rhymes with Air Trance/Crying Clue 🙂
Another form of insurance that you might consider getting is CDW/Collision. Most credit cards include this insurance as secondary coverage if you decline so be sure to check what benefits your card has. I know for certain that the United MileagePlus card has primary insurance attached as a benefit so you can easily decline CDW at the counter.
Most of the time spent at the rental agency will be with the agent who is trying to sell you insurance. Trust me, you will be blown away at the countless things they say to make you get every sort of insurance. It’ll almost make Enterprise look like a saint!
Inspect for damage thoroughly. I cannot stress enough how detail oriented rental car agencies are in Mexico. When I recently rented from National in Cabo, they marked the name of the tire company and tread depth. The best way to protect yourself while renting a car is to take detailed pictures of the vehicle before you leave and to try to get a picture of the car at the rental location. Although nothing has ever happened to me in a rental, I plan to have full evidence to back me up just in case something happens.
Elite Status with Rental Agencies
Status means nothing at most major rental companies. In Mexico, having Executive Elite or Hertz Platinum status will be just as good as walking up to the counter off the street. Do not expect any upgrades and pick the car according to how many people will be in there. Do not show up booking a midsize expecting to get an SUV because it just will not happen.
I made rental car agencies sound really bad but my thoughts have come after renting 4/6 times that I went to Cabo. Each time, I had the exact same experience at two different major rental agencies. However, once you have gotten in your car, the fun begins!
Driving in Mexico
As I said before, every resort and beach is on the same road, which is known as the Corridor. The vehicles drive on the same side of the road as us and mostly everyone adheres to traffic laws. On the way to the hotel, you will want to stop at the “Mega” shopping mall to pick up any necessities like 144 bottles of beer and/or 25 bags of chips. It is the cheapest place to get anything and resembles a mix of a Costco and Walmart, both of which are available in Cabo.
There is actually another reason why I brought up the “Mega” mall. I learned of a trick the first time I went there where they will exchange your money at a extremely high rate if you buy something from them. At the time, I bought a pack of gum that cost 6 pesos and handed the cashier a $100 bill. The current exchange rate is around 12.89 but they usually return in upwards of 13! There are also 5 different ATM’s in this shopping center that offer fairly decent withdrawal rates.
If you are going with a large group, it might make more sense to just set up an airport transfer to take you to your hotel. The first time I went to Cabo for my 21st, 10 of my friends joined me and we set up a roundtrip ride to the hotel for $18 per person. The price you pay will generally be the same throughout most airport transfer companies but I highly recommend that the transfer is set up at least 72 hours before you arrive. Once you arrive, you’ll want to go straight outside to where someone will be standing with your name on a board. DO NOT talk to anyone inside the airport arrivals area as they are all trying to sell timeshares. Some will lie to you and say that they are part of a rental company or that they are the transportation company. I have even heard them say they are part of whichever hotel you are staying at but the truth is that they will try to take you somewhere else and sell you a timeshare.
Going back to Airport Transportation, most companies charge around $180 roundtrip. However, they also mostly ask how many people and discount it if there are a lot. The company I used when I went was Cabo Ground Services. They were hassle-free and even offered us 30 minutes free grocery shopping anywhere along the way to our hotel.
After checking into your hotel/resort, chances are you’ll realize how far away you are from hotspots like Medano Beach the nightlife. Taxis in Cabo San Lucas are not metered and go by general rule of thumb. A cab ride from your resort to Downtown Cabo will cost $35 US Dollars. It will somehow jump up even more if you have 7-10 people. Do not fall for the $8/person trick. Always set up a flat cost with your driver before leaving. 99% of taxis in Cabo San Lucas are 15 passenger vans or 8 passenger SUV’s. It is an easy way to get around and can be quite cheap if you have a lot of people.
Another form of transportation here is the bus. In front of every resort, there is a bus stop that goes to/from downtown. The cost of the bus ride is 45 pesos or $3. This is by far the cheapest way to get into downtown and it is very efficient too. Buses run every 10 minutes and up to 11pm at night. The strategy I use is to take the bus into the city and then take a cab back to the resort if it’s too late at night. The biggest drawback to all of this is that there is not a set bus company that takes you. Often times, you will get an old school bus with no A/C and sometimes, you’ll get lucky with buses that offer wi-fi! It’s best to gauge your options and also see whether the people you’re traveling with are okay with it.
Overall, getting around in Cabo San Lucas is fairly easy. There are plenty of ways to go where you want to and most are fairly cheap as well!
Be on the lookout for more information about Cabo San Lucas!
Part 3: Hotels, Resorts and Timeshares
Part 4: Activities and Restaurants